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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Archaeology

Undergraduate Course: Rock Art and Archaeology: from Scotland to the Sahara (ARCA10073)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will focus on prehistoric rock art and the role it plays in society, both past and present. It will examine how we define, analyse and interpret rock art, and consider contemporary issues of conservation, management and presentation.

The majority of the course will deal with the methodological and theoretical approaches that have been used in the study of rock art, and how these have influenced our changing perceptions of its meaning and value. Students will be made aware of the almost global occurrence of prehistoric paintings and engravings, but concentrate specifically on those in Europe and Africa from the Palaeolithic to the Iron Age.

The final part of the course considers rock art as an archaeological resource with reference to such issues as conservation, management and the implications of public access and use.
Course description Rock art is an almost universal phenomenon within pre-literate societies. It represents a form of cultural expression often absent in other artefacts or monuments, and can provide a unique insight into the relationship between people and their environment. This course examines the methodological approaches used to study rock art and explores contrasting theories of its role in human society. It is based around a series of case studies drawn from Europe and North Africa and from the Upper Palaeolithic to the Iron Age, which are used to illustrate specific interpretative models. Student feedback indicates a real demand for a course on rock art studies, which are growing in popularity within the archaeological discipline.

The course aims to provide an understanding of the core approaches used to define, analyse and interpret rock art. By referencing archaeological contexts and landscapes throughout, it integrates rock art with mainstream archaeological research. It additionally addresses ethical and practical issues relating to ownership, conservation, management and presentation of rock art in contemporary society. The global nature of rock art and its iconic potential will be iterated throughout the course, with particular focus on paintings and engravings in Europe and Africa. This is a new course, designed to complement existing teaching in Archaeology and other departments.

The following topics will be covered:
1. Art or artefact? Defining rock art
2. Origins of art and symbolism
3. How old? Dating issues and the first discoveries
4. Early art; early theories
5. Shamanism and paradigms
6. Rock art in context: spatial distribution and landscape
7. Rock art in context: associations with monuments
8. Animated images; mutable surfaces
9. Rock art as agency
10. Conservation, management, preservation, presentation
11. Ethics, ownership, involvement and recording
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Pre-requisites: Archaeology 2A and 2B, or Honours entry to degrees in Classics, or equivalent.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 Archaeology courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, command of the body of knowledge considered in the course;
  2. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to read, analyse and reflect critically upon relevant scholarship;
  3. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, an ability to understand, evaluate and utilise a variety of primary source material;
  4. demonstrate, by way of coursework and examination as required, the ability to develop and sustain scholarly arguments in oral and written form, by formulating appropriate questions and utilising relevant evidence;
  5. demonstrate independence of mind and initiative; intellectual integrity and maturity; an ability to evaluate the work of others, including peers.
Reading List
Bahn P and Vertut J1997 Journey through the Ice Age, Weidenfeld and Nicholson
Bertlisson U and McDermott L (eds) The Valcamonica Symposium. National Heritage Board of Sweden/Riksantikvarieambetet: Sweden
Bradley, R. 1997. Rock art and the prehistory of Atlantic Europe: signing the land. London: Routledge.
Bradley, R. 2000 An Archaeology of Natural Places. London: Routledge
Chippendale C and Nash G (eds) 2004 The Figured Landscapes of Rock Art: Looking at Pictures in Place. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Chippendale C and Tacon P S C (eds) 1998 The Archaeology of Rock Art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Layton R 1981 The Anthropology of Art. London: Granada Publishing
Lewis-Williams D, 2002. The Mind in the Cave: Consciousness and the Origins of Art, Thames and Hudson
Lewis-Williams D and Dowson T. 1999 Images of Power: Understanding San Rock Art, Struik
Lorblanchet M and Bahn P (eds) 1993 Rock Art Studies: the Post-Stylistic Era or Where do we go from here? Oxford: Oxbow Monograph 35, Oxbow Books
Nash G and Chippendale C (eds) 2002. European Landscapes of Rock Art. London: Routledge
Whitley D S (ed) 2001 Handbook of Rock Art Research. Walnut Creek: Altamira Press
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiser Course secretaryMs Amanda Campbell
Tel: (0131 6)50 2501
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